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Back to the Future – Part 6
It was dark when we last had the opportunity to photograph the car at HGHR, but you can begin to see how the green body and contrasting black fenders have come together
When we last checked on the progress of the DRC Review project Model A, the sedan body had just been carefully lowered onto the completed rolling chassis and securely mounted in place. Since then, Jon Golding and Andy Barry of Home Grown Hot Rods have been working away steadily reassembling the car in the company’s Southend premises (the Model A had effectively been built once already, before being stripped again to the last nut and bolt prior to the painting and plating of all components).
Visually, the most dramatic change occurred when the splash aprons, front and rear fenders and running boards were bolted on. Finished in deep, gloss black, they provide a stunning counterpoint to the metallic green of the body, just as they did on the Model A I had seen as a youngster, and that provided the inspiration for this car (See Back to the Future – Part 1).
Wicked rake gives the Model A real attitude
Aside from these parts, however, the reassembly process has involved dealing with a myriad of components, the external list, for example, including such major items as the bonnet, bumpers, headlamp bar, headlamps and tail lights, as well as a whole host of less obvious, but nonetheless significant pieces, such as the door handles, radiator cap, bonnet latches, door mirrors and number plate bracket. In addition, Jon has polished every external nut and bolt used on the car, and will shortly replace all the standard-issue front suspension nuts with Nyloc items, which like the shock absorber bolts, will be individually machined down to ensure a perfect fit and a consistent appearance.
Just for good measure, there were also a number of mechanical jobs to be completed, such as running the gearbox oil lines, installing the radiator hoses and refitting – and polishing – the steering linkage, including the two joints required to clear the Sanderson exhaust headers.
Here's a shot of the instrumentation and the top section of the dash (now chromed) in place
This lot, however, was only 50 per cent of the re-assembly equation, as Jon and Andy also had to juggle with an extensive job list relating to the interior of the sedan. It ranged from refitting the dashboard, steering column, gauges and floor panels, to installing the wiring loom, battery (Optima Yellow Top), battery cable, master cut-out switch and windscreen wiper. For good measure, they also stuck sound deadening material down throughout the interior of the body shell before turning their attention to the glass.
Ron Francis wiring kit is utilised
All the winder mechanisms were reconditioned and rebuilt (only the rear window is fixed in a Model A Tudor sedan), while a new set of windows, all with polished edges, was created from 6mm glass. Once back from the glazier, the largest single piece – the windscreen – was carefully fitted, along with rubber sealing strip, into the gleaming windscreen surround, recently returned from The London Chroming Company, along with 11 other beautifully plated and polished items of interior trim.
Soundproofing material is used throughout, as shown here on the transmission tunnel, floor section and door panels
Interestingly, the most challenging part of the glass installation process involved the smallest piece – the rear window. Unlike the workers on the original Model A production line, Jon uses a combination of precisely cut glass, a modern bonding agent and rubber sealing strip when installing the window, thus ensuring there is no water leakage into the car – a problem that apparently afflicts many early Fords. “Getting that rear window in place and properly sealed is both difficult to do and very time-consuming, but it’s a really worthwhile job,” says Jon.
You can see that rake more clearly in this shot. Stock bumpers help create the look we were aiming for without going over the top on chrome
Rear window installation proved to be very time consuming, but needed to be perfect to avoid leaks. Needless to say, it's another lovely job
Although nowhere near as hard to fit, the most visually striking component so far gracing the inside of our Model A has to be that curving, chromed section that fits atop the dashboard. The original plan for the car hadn’t called for such an apparently in-your-face piece of brightwork, but Jon was adamant it would contrast beautifully with the body-coloured lower section of the dash, and look absolutely appropriate in a hot rod with an early ‘60s feel about it. He was right. Combined with the side window garnish mouldings and the rear window surround, there is now a clearly defined line of chrome encircling the interior of the car that should complement and enhance perfectly the upholstery treatment we have planned.
Speaking of upholstery, we were contemplating that very subject at the conclusion of the last episode of Back to the Future. The painstaking nature of the reassembly process meant it took a little longer to get the Model A to the stage where we could seriously consider how we wanted the interior to look, but we are pleased to report that highly important part of the build is now under way.
After due consideration, and following an initial meeting with Neil Tadman at Home Grown Hot Rods, we became convinced he was the right man to tackle our project car. Apart from it being highly convenient - Neil's Auto Interiors is based in Southend, just a few minutes by car from HGHRs - Neil is arguably the most hot-rod savvy automotive trimmer in the UK, with interiors of any number of award-winning machines to his credit.
The challenge in the case of the Model A is to come up with an interior design that “fits” with the exterior look of the car. In short, we wanted to avoid a mismatch between exterior and interior.
Graham and Neil discuss interior trim
The first meeting with Neil involved discussing several ideas and looking at numerous samples of carpet, leather and fabric. Out of this emerged two possible colour schemes that struck a chord with us. We’re not going to divulge exactly what these are at the moment, as we want the final choice to be a surprise for the next instalment of Back to the Future. Suffice to say that both concepts involve two colours, with the base of the window line forming a natural boundary between them, and the Glide split front bench and Model A rear seat featuring a partial “tuck and roll”-type treatment.
We’re due to visit Neil’s shop in the next few days, to make a final choice regarding the design, colour and materials, and at that point, the die will be pretty much cast. The rest will be up to the undoubted expertise of Mr Tadman and his staff.
Finally, one of the milestones in the build of our project Model A was reached on Tuesday evening, January 9. The telephone rang, and although the display said “Jon Golding”, there was actually a very healthy-sounding, small-block Chevy on the other end of the line. After a few crisp blips of the throttle, an obviously pleased Jon came on, reporting that after spinning the engine over to build oil pressure, and then squirting some fuel into the Edelbrock Performer carburettor, the V8 had fired up immediately and run without any problems.
The Model A at Neil Tadman's with work just about to begin. The green/black colour combination is just as envisaged. We now need an equally subtle interior to finish the job
With assembly of the car nearly complete, we asked Jon how he felt the build of the Model A had gone compared with some of the other cars he’d worked on recently.
“There’s been a lot of restoration work involved with this job, which isn’t normally the case with the build of a rod,” he responded. “It meant doing quite a lot of homework, sourcing correct – and, in certain cases, unusual – hardware, fabricating some parts from scratch and modifying others, such as the bolts for the headlamp bar and rear fenders. There’s no doubt it’s been a challenging build, but that’s what we thrive on, and I have to say, I’m very pleased with the result.”
It would be fair to say we are as well.
To be continued . . . .
Story: Graham Jones
Photos: Andy Kirk